Refugees admitted to Australia after two years on the Pacific island state of Nauru were warned by an official not to speak out about conditions there, a campaigner for the refugees said yesterday. \nSome of the asylum seekers from the MV Tampa, a ship laden with refugees which Australia controversially refused to allow to land in its territory in 2001, have recently been granted temporary protection visas to enter Australia. \nFormer immigration official Frederika Steen said they were advised not to talk to the media about conditions on Nauru, or it might affect their applications for permanent visas. \n"I got it from them and also from some other people to whom they had spoken," said Steen, now with the Romero Center in Brisbane, a church group working with refugees. \n"I am pretty sure it was an immigration official. Not to tell the truth is how they understood it, certainly not to tell the truth about conditions on Nauru," Steen said. \nAsked about the reports she had received about conditions there, Steen compared it to a shantytown. New arrivals who have praised the set-up on Nauru were not telling the true story, she said. \n"One of the visitors, who I can't name, said it was like an Aboriginal shanty town from 30 years ago. The Iraqis were living in accommodation which was sheer plastic and no walls. They were crowded in what was called a `long hut.' It was very makeshift, shanty town." \nAustralia has kept a tight lid on conditions on Nauru, fearing more bad publicity. \nCanberra's treatment of the refugees on board the Tampa triggered an international outcry over its handling of asylum seekers, most of them from Afghanistan and Iraq. Processing the refugees on Nauru was part of Canberra's "Pacific solution," which critics have condemned as inhumane. \nOf more than 400 asylum-seekers from the Tampa, several hundred are still on Nauru, among them several wives and children of men already in Australia on refugee visas. A group of 21 people, mostly from Afghanistan, were admitted early last month and more have followed. \nPhilip Ruddock, who as immigration minister was at the center of the Tampa row, was last week replaced by another hardliner, Amanda Vanstone. A spokesman for Vanstone said he was not aware of any such advice to refugees. \n"I have no knowledge of them being told that sort of thing. Given that a number of them have done interviews with immigration people standing around I find the claims hard to believe," the spokesman said. \nWhether or not refugees spoke out would not affect their applications, the spokesman said.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after